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DJI Spark: DJI's Next Tiny Drone? (Updated 4/24)

Posted on April 07 2017

There is a lot of speculation about a Phantom 5 release coming this summer, but new photos have surfaced suggesting otherwise. With the newer versions of the Phantom 4 (Pro and Pro+), DJI has already pushed the boundaries of the Phantom series and crushed any competition for mid-range cinematic drones. The release of a Phantom 5 is unnecessary at this point and honestly would probably upset a fan base that is already dealing with much-upgraded versions of the Phantom 4 series so soon after the original launch.

It looks like instead of a new Phantom (don't count it out, there's still holiday season to think about), DJI is looking more towards the mini drones. With the huge success of their foldable compact aircraft Mavic Pro, it only makes sense to push towards the smaller drone market.

The Leaks (3/29/17)


Images: SB-DJI.com

That's all we have for now as far as pictures go. We would like to state that we cannot verify the authenticity of these images, but when the Phantom 4 photos leaked, they definitely ended up to be authentic.

The Breakdown

Many are expecting this aircraft to be an FPV racer, and that may well be the case still. Signs point to it being closer to the Yuneec Breeze, more of a cross FPV/Selfie drone. 

It does not appear that the "Spark" as it's been called (DJI recently trademarked the term Spark) is utilizing DJI's Snail Propulsion System, their racing propulsion system.

Nor does it look like they use the Snail propellers either, instead opting for a foldable propeller design more similar to the Mavic Pro.

If it is indeed an FPV Racer, it would be a fairly compact frame coming in between 191mm and 198mm (tough to tell the exact measurements given the angle and resolution of the pictures) compared to the average size of competitive racer size of 250mm. 

It appears the Spark has some form of camera stabilization as well, which Racer aircraft usually do not. From the images, it looks as though it is a 2-axis gimbal which could be helpful for racing to cut down some of the downward pitch of the camera during a hard forward pitch.

It also appears to have the now-standard vision positioning system on the bottom of the unit, which would point more towards the selfie style of drone. Stabilizing its position in the air for a photograph would be essential for a selfie drone, and if that is the case it will probably also have the active track and gestures features of the Mavic Pro.

At this time not a whole lot is certain about this particular aircraft, but we will be updating this article as more information becomes available.

UPDATE 4/6/17

More photos (and a short video showing the Spark on and gimbal functioning) have surfaced. If these are a ruse, someone is doing an incredible job. Anyway, here they are.

 

Spark sans battery comes in at an incredibly small 190 grams.

Motor size comparison with Mavic on top and Spark below.

This is the first shot we've seen of internal components, which of course are extremely packed in. 

It was reported elsewhere that the Spark had an SDXC slot, but after comparison with the slot shown in the image with the microUSB slot in the same picture, it looks like DJI is definitely sticking with their standard microSD format.

The bar above the camera may have some obstacle avoidance sensors, which would be a must for a selfie drone but a bit of a hindrance for an fpv racer.

Here's a direct size comparison with the Mavic. The spark will be wider than the folded Mavic, but much shorter. We'll call it even.

As promised, here's a (very short) video of the Spark powered up!

 UPDATE 4/7/17

Of course, as we get closer to the previously speculated April 15 announcement (originally thought to be Phantom 5) the leaks will come quicker and quicker. Just a day later and there's already quite a bit more.

Here's a shot of the gimbal assembly by itself. It appears DJI has gone back to suspension damping with the Spark, and the solid yaw arm confirms the movement in the video as a two axis gimbal.

A screenshot of the app (supposedly from the Spark, I can only read English so I can't see if there's any contrary information there) shows the camera options, which go all the way to 4K. This isn't too much of a surprise considering the 4K ability of the Mavic, but some were speculating that 1080p would be the max for the Spark.

And another size comparison, with what appears to be an iPad Mini on the left and presumably Galaxy S5 on the right. 

 

Also, a video! A big factor in believing this is a legitimate video is the lack of yaw stabilization. Notice it is pretty rough on the turns, which a 3 axis gimbal would smooth out. 

UPDATE 4/10/17


UAVExpertNews

DJI has a trend of giving a little away with their announcement graphics. Take this Osmo Mobile graphic for example:

At the time, it wasn't known what this graphic was supposed to represent, but in hindsight, it looks quite like an Osmo handle with a general outline of a mobile phone floating above it. 

Although we're still thoroughly convinced the Spark will be a selfie drone, the graphic above for their announcement of April 23, 2017, looks an awful lot like a runway or a track on a drone racing circuit. They may announce that they are using the platform as both a selfie drone operated from a mobile device, and a package with a remote controller and DJI Goggles as an FPV racer. 

UPDATE 4/24

Alas, the 23rd has come and gone with no mention of the Spark. The NAB 2017 announcement was mostly about the Ronin 2, which is a pretty awesome unit, but not a flight platform. Keep an eye on our blog where we'll have more info about the Ronin 2, and keep watching this post which will be updated as soon as there's more information about the Spark.

 


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